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Health Highlights: June 9, 2011

Health Highlights: June 9, 2011

06/09/11

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

U.S. Flu Vaccination Rates Remain High

Flu vaccination rates remained high in the United States this past winter even though there was no swine flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flu vaccination coverage was nearly 43 percent, according to interim results from an analysis of data collected between August 2010 and February 2011 from people 6 months and older in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

The findings suggest that record high seasonal flu vaccination coverage in the U.S. in 2009-10 (when there was a swine flu pandemic) continued during the past season, according to the report in the latest issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC.

Among the other findings:

  • Vaccination coverage among children increased from 42.3 percent in 2009-10 to 49 percent in 2010-11, and improved rates of vaccination among black and Hispanic children in the 2010-11 flu season eliminated racial/ethnic disparities in child flu vaccination coverage.
  • There were wide variations in flu vaccination coverage between states, particularly among children. In some states, flu vaccination rates for children were above 60 percent.
  • Flu vaccination rates among adults in 2010-11 were similar to 2009-10 levels, and racial/ethnic disparities in flu vaccination rates persisted among adults.

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More Illnesses, Another Death in E. Coli Outbreak

Another person in Germany has died in the E. coli outbreak and 160 more have been reported ill, the country's national disease control center said Thursday.

So far, 2,808 people have been reported sickened in Germany, including 722 with a serious complication that can cause kidney failure, according to the Robert Koch Institute, the Associated Press reported.

There have been 97 people reported sick in 12 other European countries, as well as three in the United States, the World Health Organization said.

Deaths from the E. coli outbreak total 27 -- 26 in Germany and one in Sweden.

The source of the outbreak has not been identified, the AP reported.

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Boost Efforts to Eliminate HIV/AIDS: Obama

Countries around the world need to do more to eliminate HIV/AIDS, U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday in a statement marking the 30th anniversary of the fight against the disease.

An aggressive global response has reduced the number of infections and deaths but tens of millions of people still live with the disease and about two million die every year, Obama noted, USA Today reported.

He said the United States is a global leader in the fight against AIDS and will continue to do its part, but added that more nations need to do their part.

"Together, we can resolve to meet our shared responsibilities. Together, we can come closer to our vision of a world without HIV/AIDS," Obama said.

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Many Sexual Assaults Within VA System Unreported

Many sexual assaults that occur within the Veterans Affairs system aren't being reported to high level officials, says a Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit released this week.

Investigators found that VA leadership officials and the VA Inspector General's Office were not informed about 284 of the 300 sexual assault incidents reported to VA police between January 2007 and July 2010, CNN reported.

The sexual assault incidents included rape, forced or inappropriate oral sex, inappropriate touching, and forceful medical examinations. Both men and women were the victims of these sexual assaults. Attackers and victims included VA employees, patients and people with no connection to the VA.

Of the 67 rape allegations, nearly two-thirds were not reported to the VA Inspector General's Office, as required by VA regulation, CNN reported.

A hearing on the issue has been scheduled for Monday by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

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Sharp Rise in Workers' Share of Health Insurance Premiums

The share of health insurance premiums paid by workers at private-sector companies rose sharply between 2001 and 2009, says a U.S. government report.

The average annual premium share for workers with employee plus-one-coverage increased 121 percent, from $1,070 to $2,363. The average annual contribution for workers with family coverage rose nearly 100 percent, from $1,741 to $3,474, while there was a 92 percent increase for employees with single coverage, from $498 to $957.

During that same time, the total average premium for employer-sponsored health plans rose more slowly, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Premiums increased from $5,463 to $9,053 (66 percent) for an employee-plus-one plan, from $7,509 to $13,027 (73.5 percent) for a family plan, and from $2,889 to $4,669 (62 percent) for a single plan.

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Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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